Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Neat Freak

I just got a call from Steve, telling me he can’t believe what he just witnessed.

When he’s home with her by himself, he occasionally banishes Samantha to her room when he needs to do something without having to keep an eye on her (argue on the phone with Verizon, call a client, argue on the phone with Medicaid, smoke a cigarette, argue on the phone with, uh, some other organization that’s ticked him off or done us wrong, use the bathroom, etc. - I'm sooooo glad he makes those phone calls, because I sure suck at them...). Sometimes she just goes in her room and closes the door on her own. She has a child-proof doorknob cover so she can’t get out. Not like she wants to. She’s more than happy to just play in there by herself for a while, and has plenty to keep her occupied.

Like today.

Today, Samantha went in her room on her own to play, closing the door behind her and saying, “Bye, Daddy!” Steve worked on the computer in the room next to hers for a while, and eventually heard a fairly loud thud, followed by her laughter, so he knew she was okay. But he was curious. What could have made that sound? When he went into her room, he was shocked by the level of destruction she’d created. Books, stuffed animals, dolls, etc., were strewn around her floor. Flashcards were out of their boxes. Her mini-armchair was overturned and in the middle of the room. And she was caught in mid-climb, working her way up her toy-bin fixture that had been stripped of every toy that had been sitting on it.

World War III was how he described it to me. I’ve seen this kind of mess before, and I know his claim to be valid.

While he stood, speechless, she giggled, said hello, then bolted past him into the hallway. “Shirt and pants!” she said, as she began to open her dresser (no longer kept in her room after the Great Dresser Accident of 2009) to pull out her clothes to re-fold.

Not so fast,” he told her. “First you have to clean up your room.”

No! Shirt and pants!” she countered.  Nice try.

Steve got down on the floor in front of her, and told her, matter-of-factly that she had to clean her room first, then would be allowed to play with her clothes.

Samantha agreed and went back into her room (leaving the door open) while he went back into the office. He heard her moving around in there, and once or twice she left her room and went into the bathroom for a few moments.

Sammi, what are you doing?” he asked her on one such occasion.

Cleaning!” was her response. Of course.

After a few more minutes, she came out and announced, “All done cleaning!” Steve went into her room.

It was spotless.

Flashcards were back in their boxes. Books were back on the bookshelf. Teddy bears (and only teddy bears, separated from the rest of her stuffed toys) were neatly sitting in their basket, all facing forward. Sesame Street stuffed dolls were grouped together on top of the toy-bin fixture, facing forward. Other licensed character dolls were grouped together in another spot on top of the toy-bin fixture. Baby dolls were sitting on her chair, neat and facing forward. He discovered that on her trips to the bathroom she’d brought two books from her room that she knew usually lived in the book basket on the toilet and returned them to their rightful place.

I can’t even begin to describe the pride that I (and Steve) feel right now. I’ve always known she likes to clean up things, and with prompts and instruction has put things away. But this really takes it many notches above. After thinking that my discovery in her room the night before last was exciting (when I walked in to see why she wasn’t asleep yet and found her sitting on her bed with her shirt on backwards and her pants and pull-up on inside out), this takes the cake.

Steve and I are completely on the same page in our parenting styles. We believe in showing by example, and guiding her through self-sufficiency (in things that she’s age-appropriately capable of doing). We see, every single day, how this has paid off.

He didn't get a "before" photo, and I've asked him to e-mail me an "after."  I'll update this with "after" if one turns up,

8 comments:

Cindy said...

Wow!! That's incredible! Way to go Samantha!!

Anne and Whitney: Up, Down and All Around said...

that is WONDERFUL!!! i wish there was a before photo- - - but i am pretty sure i have seen the exact same mess made by anne and whitney! can't wait to see the "after" photo! GREAT story!!!

my family said...

good job samantha, now come tomy house and help me out:)

Cathy said...

Yay Samantha!!! What a big girl. Next time, make sure Daddy gets a before picture!!

Lacey said...

Wow, thats amazing! Way to go big girl!

Renee said...

You two are wonderful parents and set a great example for her.

Now can she come over and me organize the kids' stuff and my stuff?

Jenny said...

Awww, that was a cute story! Great job Sam :)

tekeal said...

hee hee hee... go girl!